A Valley Without Wind Demo And Beta Launch

By Adam Smith on September 26th, 2011 at 6:16 pm.

That windmill was a useless addition

Jim has already been playing A Valley Without Wind and shared the experience here but now you can all have a go for yourselves. There’s a free demo available and you can play the full current version for a mere $10, which is half the price it’ll cost you if you buy it when it’s finished. The game is still at a relatively early stage in development so it’s extra helpful to have a demo available alongside the pre-purchase option. I’ll be playing it soon but in the meantime, I’ll refer you once more to Jim’s thoughts if you need help to work out if you’re interested or not. This new trailer might help too.

This is a pleasant treat to end the day with and has now scuppered my plans to spend time with people I care about. Hurrah for gaming!

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70 Comments »

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  1. Berzee says:

    This was today’s happiest surprise :D I’ll get to try it on the bus ride home.

  2. the.celt says:

    There’s a lot of wind in that valley at the end.

    • Vinraith says:

      Which is exactly why they’re looking for a valley without any.

    • Berzee says:

      Never have a seen a title of a game cause so much lighthearted yet totally misguided smugness, and confusion. =P

  3. Professor Paul1290 says:

    I’m still starting out playing it but I feel like I should mention this.

    Use the maps! Seriously they’ll save you a LOT of pain. They’re bound to the , and . keys. They mark where you’ve been, which rooms are “destroyed”, and will tell you where a door or vent will take you as soon as you come near it.

    I know this sounds silly but I feel like someone is going to completely miss this.

  4. schizopol says:

    does the license code work on any copy? or will i need to buy a second copy to play on a mac?

    and what’s the word on ipads from arcen? I can’t find anything on them.

    • cupogoodness says:

      @schizopol

      You key is DRM free, will work on any digital distribution hub if it happens to end up there, and gives you access to both PC and Mac versions.

      iPads? Never heard of ‘em. (Just joking, but nothing in mind yet.)

      – Erik, Arcen

  5. Dominic White says:

    I got my press beta key for this today, and have been playing it on and off for most of the day.

    My feelings are about as mixed as you can get. First off, I really don’t like the art-style any more up close and in motion than I did in screenshots and trailers. Some of the animations/enemies HAVE to be placeholders. I really hope they are, because this, right here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asLUQ2gKFmc&feature=player_detailpage#t=82s

    This is a dragon that looks unhappy to even be alive, hobbling and lurching awkwardly across the terrain. The graphics in general look like an awkward collage of of Poser and 3D Studio MAX resources.

    So, here’s the good news, and anyone who has ever played a few SNES games will cheer here – it’s effectively a procedurally generated Actraiser. You alternate between going out, beating up monsters and levelling up your character/town, and managing the settlement itself, building houses, recruiting people from other settlements and expanding, and I really hope it does expand in that direction.

    There’s a framework here for something amazing, but a lot of the gameplay fundamentals are going to have to change before I can honestly say I’m enjoying it. First and foremost is the core combat – it’s currently all magical, all projectiles, and feels more like AI War than a Metroidvania game. You’re basically an awkwardly animated sprite throwing blobs of particles with stats at other awkwardly animated sprites until one of you hits 0hp and blips out of existance. There’s about a dozen different projectile spells at the moment, but they’re all basically ‘blob of particles that make HP go down’. Some do more or less damage, others move at different speeds, but I can’t help but wish I just had a sword or a gun – ANYTHING that would give some kind of feedback.

    There’s also no reason to fight anything other than minibosses, as they’re the only thing that gives you XP, and no enemies drop loot right now either. Enemy spawn points continually generate creatures and can’t be destroyed at all, so it’s almost always best to just jump over enemies and ignore them than fight them.

    The setting is a good point – basically, the universe blew up and got stuck back together all wrong. You start out as a member of a tribe of high tech Ice-fremen from a future ice age, guarded and sustained by a pair of sentient, talking magical crystalsin your village. As you explore, you find ancient egyptian deserts, pre-industrial-revolution towns, modern-day cities and post-apocalyptic wastelands full of killer robots from the far future. It’s a fun temporal mashup. The problem is that there’s very little to differentiate them right now aside from how the insides of the buildings are laid out. Some eras have houses you can search quickly and effectively, but in others I keep finding sheds that are about 5000 times larger on the inside than they are outside.

    Enemy spawner placement is really weird, too. I found a pack of rhinos living in the master bedroom of a house on stilts, but that’s just kinda amusing.

    I really don’t want to be so harsh on this game. I loved AI War and recommended it to a great many people. There’s an amazing concept here (Actraiser + Roguelike) but at the moment it all feels like a first-draft prototype with placeholder art. The problem is that the placeholders are, allegedly, the art-style that they wanted from the start.

    Feel free to ask questions – I’d be glad to answer whatever I can.

    • Berzee says:

      Hmm, since I actually like the look of this game, the other parts of your findings are mostly encouraging! :-) Hopefully they can make the combat less floaty and more punchy (and with more purpose).

      One further question — the music in the trailer I love very much, which makes me wonder, how are the sound effects and music in the game? (Wouldn’t be surprised if that was the least-finalized thing right now, but I’m curious).

    • Dominic White says:

      The music is from the game, yeah, and it’s pretty nice, although I can’t help but feel like it’s the AI War soundtrack with a NES chiptune layer on top.

      The sounds are largely an assortment of whooshing noises for projectiles at the moment. Not much different from AI War there, either.

    • x4000 says:

      There’s not any particular enemies or spells that are placeholder at all, just FYI. Note that the dragon’s name is Crippled Dragon, and walks like that for thematic reasons. There are plenty of other things that aren’t crippled and which move as you’d expect.

      I think this boils down to a matter of taste in a lot of respects, because we’ve had a number of folks commenting on how much they love the art. But given the style, I know not everybody is going to. In terms of the combat and other mechanics, all of that is still evolving. No guns or swords are planned, but you will be able to transform into various animals that can attack things more directly. There’s also a few different spells that aren’t ranged particle projectiles: circle of fire, ice cross, fire touch, most notably. Others are coming. The launch rock/meteor ones are also a different take on the launched projectiles.

    • Dominic White says:

      Even if the dragon is meant to be walking funny, having it instantly flick to a full standing pose (while still sliding along) then back to walking doesn’t look good at all. A lot of animations on a lot of enemies and even the player sprite do this – you’re running along at full speed, and then you strike a bizarre disco pose for a second while still moving, and then resume the walk cycle like nothing happened.

      AI war got away with ugly-as-sin ship design and poor to nonexistant animation because it was largely played from a strategic overview, and combat could get away with being stat-blobs chewing away at each other because, again, it was strategic-level combat. AVWW is going to something much more up-close and involved, and you really can’t get away with that in a sidescroller.

      Personally, I think it feels far too much of a numbers game right now. Even the most grindy of Korean platform-RPGs (Maple Story springs to mind) has weight behind attacks, knockbacks, stuns and all those other little details that make it feel like you’re actually controlling a physical entity in the world, rather than a gravity-bound emitter point for particles.

    • Wheelsner says:

      Regarding the dragon; acording to the Arcen forums its supposed to be “crippled”. I suppose this may go some way to explaining the fact that it hobbles across the screen akwardly. I haven’t, however, encountered it myself yet – it may simply be an artifact of the current character/ enemy animation which can admittedly be somewhat crude at times.

      EDIT: I note that I’ve been beaten by Nick from Arcen himself and my comment is entirely redundant…never mind eh?

    • x4000 says:

      Dominic — I see, the transitions between attacks and stuff bother you. Not much I can do about that, I’m afraid. These aren’t 3D models, and there’s a limit to what we can do with that with sprites. In terms of knockback and such, just about every spell has knockback on enemies, although some larger enemies are immune to that effect.

      I hear what you’re saying, but there is a definite tradeoff between things like number of animations and the scope of a world. You can’t have both, not without either really making everything generic (pixelart, to some extent, can only show so much), or without cutting the amount of content that is possible. A lot of Korean MMOs seem to have very little in the way of locales and enemies, at least at the start, and then they grow somewhat over time.

      Our goals are completely in a different direction; if you’re looking for AAA visuals from Arcen, you’re looking at the wrong studio. That’s not our focus, it’s not something we care about, and it’s not something we’re going to sacrifice gameplay for. My goal is for the art to be mood setting, generally pleasing (which a fair number of folks seem to think it is, so again I say this is a taste thing), and generally not destructive to immersion. Of course, that last is something that again varies by the individual.

      I’m not trying to convince you to like it, but I do think that if folks insist that every game have full animations past a certain benchmark point, you’re only going to get certain kinds of games. Some games are only possible to do when done in a somewhat more indie fashion. That’s not true of Tidalis, but it’s certainly true of AI War and AVWW.

    • schizopol says:

      i think this argument is too subjective, and it belies a larger issue: What size of screen is this game designed to be played on? Although I find the game engaging and I enjoy the art style, scrolling across the screen, movement, seems to hurt my eyes. The world around my character becomes blurred to a point where it’s difficult to discern features from the landscape. This movement effect sullies the visual quality of the background. I can’t tell you why this is, platformers are not my forte. Playing on highest settings 1920×1200, but the issue persists on lower resolutions. The text interface can feel cluttered and text, for my eyes, is far too small.

      If this is the first you’ve heard of my complaint, perhaps it’s a fluke of my particular monitor (24.5 inches, 2ms response, standard flat panel non-IPS) seated just under 2 feet away, or perhaps it’s an issue of the eyes, I’ve just stepped in from an hour or so in the sun not too long ago (but long enough, I should think) I do use f.lux, so I find the latter explanation unlikely. Still, I guarantee you it’s worth asking around over. There could be some optimization done to mesh the color scheme, or refine the way background visuals are handled in motion… even if just from the menu.

    • Thants says:

      I don’t think anyone’s complaining that it’s not high-fidelity enough or anything, it’s more that it seems a weird mishmash of styles. The realistic looking character sprite combined with the jerky animation and the blurry, vague backgrounds is really disconcerting. Animations like that can work if the graphics are a bit more cartoony.

      Spelunky, for instance, has technically lower-quality graphics but it looks much better. I don’t think the criticisms of this games graphics have anything to do with not being Triple-A.

    • Ubik2000 says:

      WHOA! Whoa there! Procedurally generated Actraiser, you say! Now you’re talking! Granted I enjoyed the side scrolling portions of Actraiser orders of magnitude less than the Over World portions, but…

    • Dominic White says:

      @Thants – Exactly. Spelunky is a game with really simple, low-fi graphics, limited animation, etc. But it has a coherent, clear, charming style and what animation it DOES have is very consistent. Nothing even fractionally as wonky as aformentioned dragon, which looks like it’s from another game entirely, and then just switches to a frozen upright stance mid walk-cycle *while still sliding along*.

      I’ve consistently argued for the art to be LOWER resolution and have fewer frames of animation since the very first alpha trailer came out. I’m asking for the polar opposite of ‘AAA graphics’ here.

      @Ubik2000 – The combat in AVWW right now is nowhere near as good as Actraiser at the moment, sadly.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      it’s more that it seems a weird mishmash of styles

      Precisely. It’s wildly inconsistent. The dragon is a great example of something that absolutely does not fit with everything else on the screen. It’s like clashing colors.

      It’s odd to see people say they like “the art style”, when there are at least two or three different art styles involved.

    • schizopol says:

      @thants No no, you misunderstand. it’s not an issue of lacking fidelity, if anything there is too much of it, it creates a landscape where, in motion, there is too much going on. it’s hard to focus on the environment as the camera glues to the player character and tracks every movement. This is not how most sidescrollers work, and it’s headache/eyestrain inducing.

      I haven’t heard anyone else complaining about it, though, which leads me to believe the effect depends on the particulars of my setup, hence the specs.

    • PUKED says:

      Spot on, I was going to post the same thing. There’s a problem when you can get through a game by holding right+jump until you get the the boss, and don’t want to do anything else because it’s even more boring.

      I’m hoping that this is a really rough preview. It’s probably a mistake calling it a beta when both Minecraft and Terraria are so similar and were much fuller games at that point.

    • psyk says:

      You don’t have to like the look of everything that comes out,shit did this much whining happen over “and yet it moves”

    • Thants says:

      If we’re not allowed to talk about what we think of a game in an article about it this place is going to be awfully quiet.

  6. johnpeat says:

    Well I gave this a whirl and – I’m – err – well…

    It’s certainly an Arcen game – it’s massively overcomplicated and feels like a mishmash of ideas all rammed into a box.

    I realise it’sa BETA but their other games are the same so I’m guessing it’s deliberate :)

    Whatever else you may say, it’s a side-scrolling action RPG with a million ideas all whirling around in it – you may like some of them, try it.

    Me? – I think I need a lie down after that – it’s just – well – it’s just – errr

  7. Unaco says:

    Got this set up on my Netbook, and fiddled around for 10-15 minutes earlier today. Looks good. Graphically, it was a step or two above what I was expecting… Character models are crisp and quite cool looking, the Environ environs are very well done, and the dynamic sky was quite enchanting. Downloading now to put it on my Desktop, will give it more of a spin later.

    Very admirable of Arcen to drop all DRM and the like… and they’re a company known for supporting their games and engaging with the community, and making games that put gameplay at the head of their efforts… So I’ve got some high hopes for this.

    Does anyone know when the Early Beta ends? I’m definitely going to pick this up I think, but am a bit short on Shekels til end of October, but still hope to get the reduced price around then. If Beta ends before then, I’ll pick it up and go without food for a few days.

  8. pakoito says:

    Needs more stuff in interiors and a bit more of tutorial. I finished one chunk and I didn’t know how to get out!

  9. The Innocent says:

    Great! Getting it this instant. Arcen Games is pretty much my definition of innovation in gaming for the last couple years. Here’s to hoping that this game provides hundreds of hours of fun like AI War did!

    However, I’m hoping I won’t have to buy this game over and over again to help keep them in business. After purchasing AI War so many times, I’d really like it if they would be a little more cautious when it comes to finances. I understand why they had problems — and hey, that sort of thing can happen to anyone — but I hope they’re just a bit more careful from now on. I’d hate to see such a wonderful company disappear.

  10. Enzo says:

    Still looks like a Game Maker or Games Factory game.

    • Unaco says:

      Yeah, and Dwarf Fortress looks like how a 1980s Amstrad CPC Word processor would crash.

      Looks: They can be deceiving.

    • Enzo says:

      I’m not saying that this game is awful. I’m only saying that it looks like poo. It’s very possible that there’s a great game hidden underneath all the horrible sprites with no sense of coherent style.

    • Dominic White says:

      Yeah, I’m not calling for amazing AAA-budget graphics here. It’s just that I’ve played games with far lower budgets (freeware gems like Spelunky and Cave Story spring to mind) that had much simpler graphics that were much more aesthetically pleasing, with limited-but-coherent animations and backdrops that tile elegantly.

      While the beta looks a lot nicer than the first-wave alpha prototype (back when the game had a top-down perspective), it still doesn’t look good. The characters look like they’ve been exported straight out of poser, and aside from a couple of spell-casting animations (which are just a single weird posing frame that it plays even if you’re mid-jump), there’s not much there beyond a run cycle and a somersault.

      The worst offender, graphically, is the interior backgrounds. Each time-zone has a single tiled style that you’ll see in every single building, repeating infinitely. Imagine looking at constantly scrolling mid-90s Windows wallpaper. After a few hours, it gave me a headache to look at. Even outdoors, aside from a basic ‘surface’ texture denoting where the walkable surface is, all the ground is a similarly pre-rendered, glossy-looking effect tiled infinitely.

      But it’s not the graphics that are the main issue – although they’re the most obvious – it’s that as of just a couple months ago, the game is now a platform shooter where neither the platforming nor shooting is particularly enjoyable. Exterior zones take forever to hike across, and interiors are convoluted in the extreme, even when it’s just a small modern house you’re supposed to be climbing around in, requiring copious double-jumps to navigate from a bedroom up to the closest available toilet. I know there’s a thematic reason for the bizarro architecture (reality went and blew up), but it’s just awkward to navigate.

      The combat is the worst part right now, though. It involves holding the mouse button over the enemy until you’ve fired (well, generated – they just kinda fly out of your character) enough blobs of particle effects to make the enemy reach 0hp and vanish. No death animations – they just blip into nothingness.

    • Enzo says:

      This is very offtopic: Dominic White, are you by any chance a user of Something Awful forums? That avatar+username combo is familiar.

    • Koozer says:

      The use of GameMaker is (technically) completely unrelated to the quality of the artwork!

    • Dominic White says:

      Yeah, I post on SA – I’m also a writer over at DIYGamer.

      @Koozer – Spelunky was made using Game Maker, and looked absolutely lovely, so, yeah!

  11. Kaldor says:

    When I saw the title pic with the windmill and the colourful yet strangely shadowed trees I first thought it was Jonathan Blow’s next project. But maybe the world is not yet ready for his second coming.

    • MondSemmel says:

      This sounds like you haven’t yet heard of The Witness. Have you?
      http://the-witness.net/news/
      It’s not released yet, and might take a (long) while longer. But it’s in 3D (vs. the 2D of A Valley Without Wind and Braid), and afaik the artists helping with this game are different from the one who helped with Braid, too.
      By the way, I think Braid’s artstyle is an excellent way of how to make an artstyle work without sacrificing gameplay. The style of A Valley Without Wind? Not so much.

    • Zenicetus says:

      The thing about Braid is that it actually has an art style. So we can talk about whether we like it or not, what our personal preferences are, and so on. There was obviously a real artist involved in the project, with a clear vision, and so the thing hangs together whether you like the art stye or not.

      Valley Without Wind doesn’t have a coherent art style. It looks thrown together from random outside assets, and then dressed up with few Photoshop filters. I think that approach to game design can be critiqued separately from the “all art is subjective” arguments.

  12. danimalkingdom says:

    I think it’s great that RPS are following and supporting this game but I honestly have no compulsion to give this game a moment of my time, which is rare for me. This just seems like an ugly game experiment that went in the wrong direction, and at no point in RPS’ coverage have I had any inclination to try it.

  13. terry says:

    Weird that so many people find the artstyle offputting, I looked at the screens and said “Holy crap that looks beautiful”. Different (brush) strokes, I guess.

  14. Reinhardt says:

    I have to agree. The inconsistent art style and clunky animation is pretty distracting. The whole thing could benefit from a simpler aesthetic.

    The gameplay I can’t comment on, but the amateurish trailer didn’t do it any favors.

    • cupogoodness says:

      @Reinhardt

      I’d love some constructive criticism if you want to expand on any issues you had with the trailer.

    • Reinhardt says:

      Oh, gosh. I didn’t mean to insult you or anything. I shouldn’t have called it “amateurish” because it does a good job of showing a lot of different aspects of the gameplay.

      But to sell a game visually, you have to make it seem mysterious and inviting without giving everything away. I think the trailer would benefit from being about half the length and not focusing so much on the abstractions of menus and text. Maybe choose a particularly impacting 45 seconds of continuous gameplay that gives the player a basic feel for the controls and atmosphere, coupled with a 10 second montage of flashy effects, followed by the name of your game.

      For what it’s worth, I think the music is distracting, but could see how it might be appropriate in parts of the game. Maybe not for a trailer. Also, I’ve been following the development of your game since it was a top-down explorer and I’ve always been interested. I’m sure I’ll buy it at some point because graphics have never turned me off of a game before and I am exactly your target audience. There’s evidently a lot of creativity that has gone into this and I’d really like to support this type of development.

    • cupogoodness says:

      No worries and no offense taken. :) I appreciate the feedback on it. We went for the show off all points of gameplay possible, and I was happy that in the end we concluded right where the track pretty much did and had some good transitional moments that matched the audio well.

      Just a whole bunch of stuff we wanted to show off this time around, but I think yeah a more atmospheric teaser to go along with it would have been cool as well. Something I’ll keep in mind going forward, thanks for the reply!

  15. Guhndahb says:

    The art and animations seem fine to me. I actually very much like the distinctive and lovely background art. The character art is less to my liking but it does the job and doesn’t distract me at all.

    There are a few things that did bother me. I’ve been following the dev blog on this project for a few months (having originally subscribed as I found AI War’s development interesting), and I know that a critical design choice is to keep the player constantly moving, constantly doing stuff, little down-time. So that explains choices like the monster generators and limiting the magic you can expend on a trip (they don’t want you sitting there waiting for your magic to regenerate, they want you to either go back to the camp or use potions). But I found having to parcel out my spells so much a bit limiting, but it could be a good mechanic to which I just need to become accustomed.

    The monster generators, on the other hand, I just plain don’t like. I know there’s a spell that disables them temporarily, but that’s not really a solution. I’d rather be able to “clean out” an area, then, over time, enemies trickle back in. But the constantly spawning enemies does not appeal to me at all. I don’t like being rushed. And those, coupled with limited magic reserves, makes you feel like you need to keep rushing around – not being able to take the time to mentally map some of these really convoluted building interiors. That’s not for me!

    Overall, it shows a lot of potential, though. I really hope it has sufficient success, as I’d like to see Arcen doing this kind of game more. (As a programmer, I really like reading about AI War’s development, and I did buy it. Playing it, on the other hand, just isn’t for me – it’s just not a genre that holds my interest for long, at least not modern iterations – I did love MoO2!)

  16. Teddy Leach says:

    Well, I love the art and animation style.

  17. Professor Paul1290 says:

    I don’t think much more can be done about the character sprites in particular just due to the nature of the game.

    Most 2D sidescrolling games that use sprites only have one player character that gets a lot of screen time and needs all the animations and most other enemies have limited behavior and are relatively easy to animate.

    AVWW by nature doesn’t offer such a convenience. There are numerous characters that may become the player character and suddenly get a lot of on screen time so any improvements to the player character animations would have to be done to all possible characters that the player may have control of.
    I’ve you’ve done or attempted a sprite based game then you probably know how quickly that kind of work can multiply. Not to mention it would make it harder and harder to add more player-controllable character sprites to the game.

    I dunno, maybe there is an easier way to do that I don’t know about.

  18. Berious says:

    Not too fussed about the graphics – they’re functional. But why am I running around chopping down trees? Where do these endlessly respawning skeletons come from? Why does every building look like an abandoned office? What the hell am I supposed to be doing? Oh god how did I get here I’m not good with computer!

    • Professor Paul1290 says:

      Ok, first of all, going around chopping down trees and exploring random buildings is what you do to get consumables like potions, stuff for scrolls, and shards of consciousness.

      Don’t feel like you have to chop down every tree and explore every building and get everything. There’s more stuff out there then you’ll ever need. If you feel like you have enough in the way of ordinary supplies then you can probably stop randomly exploring.

      In the long run you’ll want to be going after things like memory crystals (or shards or whatever they’re called), bosses that might be guarding important objects, areas that might contain spell ingredients, and so on. The more important stuff seems to be marked on the overworld map for the most part after the area has been scouted (it seems you can make the NPCs scout for you to cut down on random wandering).

    • Fiatil says:

      Is it possible to actually clear out an area of enemies early on? I don’t see anything directly related to it in the getting started guide; I see that there are monster generators, and there are bosses of areas who give nice loot and such. But is there a way to destroy the monster generators? Does killing the boss liberate an area? I’m not sure how I feel about the combat yet, but I do know that I’m not a huge fan of constantly respawning enemies. It’s something I wouldn’t have a problem with if there’s a game mechanic to stop their constant respawning, and not just temporarily with a spell.

    • malkav11 says:

      Being able to kill monster generators is apparently in the next patch. Not sure how permanent it will be.

  19. johnpeat says:

    I think what I need from this game is the answer to a simple question

    “What the hell am I doing?”

    In the first 5 mins I’m bombarded with upto 35 ‘tips’, introduced to crafting (really the first thing you want to get people doing??) and then thrown into the world with only a vaguest idea of what the plan is.

    There’s a map – there’s places to explore – there’s enemies (and no combat tutorial or did I miss that??) but I have no idea who I am, what I’m doing, why I’m doing it.

    Call me a method-gamer if you like, but gems/gemdust/recipes/crafting etc. are just trimmings – I need some direction.

    In the words of Hutson – I need to know “where they are”…

  20. Lazaruso says:

    A Valley Without Wind collides head on with A Gamer Without Brains.

    This won’t be pretty.

  21. wodin says:

    I love the art atyle in general but not your character and the NPC’s…they didn’t look good nor were they in the same art style, plus the game should have some fluid animations and lots of them to give it that extra special edge.

    I went into this thinking it was going to be a more adult Terreria, so I wasn’t disheartened when I started playing it.

    If you get rid of what you thought it was going to be like pre the 2D chnage and look at it with fresh eyes and understand the type of game it is I really feel it’s going to be a damn fine game with loads of depth and lots to do. It needs alot more work but I can see it taking off.

  22. WotevahMang says:

    Game looks interesting enough, will play when it’s finished.

    Have to ask…what is the appeal of playing a beta? It’s like getting a meal where the appetizer is being switched out by the chef after each bite, chewing a bite of steak to find one side of it frozen, and finding out the dessert you were waiting for is no longer offered.

    Doesn’t it sour your game experience later on when you play the actual end product?

    • Dominic White says:

      This is why chefs don’t enjoy food they’ve cooked, obviously. They’ve seen it while it was being made, therefore it’s ruined.

      No, wait – that’s ridiculous. You get it half price if you buy early, you get to make feedback that changes the course of development (potentially), and you get to try something you’re interested in earlier than people who pay full price later.

    • malkav11 says:

      And we’re not talking about a linear story-driven game here, where you could very easily have significant portions of the experience spoiled for you by playing pre-release. We’re talking a game about exploring a hostile, procedurally generated world, carving out your own niche in it, and gradually maybe one day restoring something like civilization to the shattered landscape you find yourself in. It’s designed to be effectively infinite, both in a single world and on restarts. That’s not the sort of game you spoil by playing early in the development cycle.

    • Berzee says:

      Quite so. More like Minecraft than Bastion.
      (Ew…a preorder beta of Bastion?…ewwww. That would be the worst thing.)

  23. Cryotek says:

    I want to be interested in this, but the inconsistent art style is just hideous. I don’t mind low detail or “retro” style graphics, but a game like Terraria is *consistent*. This game looks like the art assets were made by 3 blind people working in complete isolation from each other. On different games.

  24. MrEvilGuy says:

    Wow! A few nights ago I fell asleep watching about an hour of gameplay footage on youtube. Now I can play it and put myself to sleep!

    I’m really surprised at how much of a game it is already. Quite amazing!

    Also, I hated the art style awhile ago, but the more I see it, the more relaxing and strangely fascinating it seems. It’s great!

  25. Premium User Badge

    JiminyJickers says:

    I wan’t to like it, but it is just a bit boring at the moment. Hopefully a lot of features get added, at the moment just not that much interesting about it.

    I played it for a good couple of hours but just don’t have any motivation to do anything more. There is no point to exploration, I went into a few houses and into a few territories found some bits. Not too exciting. The boss tower was mildly amusing but got old quick.

    Still think an isometric version would have been better but hey. Will see what this eventually turns into.

    I wonder if there are any other games out there that would do this idea a bit better?

  26. stblr says:

    I played it for a few hours last night. The fact that I was that absorbed is a good sign because, honestly, there were a few things that were immediately offputting. Feeling like I have to cycle through 35 tutorial tooltips was one of those things. There also wasn’t a whole lot of direction in terms of what I should be doing next, so eventually I just set out to kill the local bosses that showed up in the region map. Hopefully that’s what I’m supposed to be doing but I don’t know for certain.

    The UI needs some work. The crafting menus are especially cumbersome; having to drill down through each starting material just to see what recipes are available gets old very fast.

    Movement and combat feel pretty good. It’s somewhat floaty but things have a nice “weight” to them, which in this type of game is crucial. Feedback needs a lot of work, though, both on receiving damage and dishing it out. One of the spells I made is the fireball spell, which has shown up a lot in the promotional videos for AVWW. It’s a good offensive spell but it’s very difficult to visually track its point of impact. It’s just a mass of particles and I found myself spamming it at these bouncing spark enemies because 1) I couldn’t tell where my fireball’s actual bounding box or point was exactly, and 2) the spark enemy itself is also just a mass of particles, compounding the problem.

    My biggest gripe is that the game gives no incentive for killing regular enemies. You get xp only for bosses, apparently, so most of the time it’s just easier to avoid enemies entirely. The regular enemies just felt like a hassle rather than a challenge to be overcome. It also slightly discourages exploration, which so far is one of this game’s strengths and something they should play up more.

    And I absolutely hate the enemy respawn points. There’s something satisfying about clearing out an entire room of enemies but this game doesn’t allow that to happen unless you spam an exorbitantly costly spell to stop each point from spawning new enemies for 5 minutes. With multiple spawns per floor, and sometimes dozens of floors per building, the spell didn’t even feel worth casting. I just did my best to avoid the enemies as easily as I could. I apparently killed a boss because I leveled up, but I’m not even sure who that boss was or when it happened. it must have looked and acted like a regular enemy, and I didn’t get any notification that I had leveled. Small issues but notable.

    All that said, they NAILED exploration (the complaints above notwithstanding). Exploring a local region was rewarding in and of itself . The items are sparse but coming across them felt good. I explored 4 buildings and their layouts made sense and were varied enough to keep things interesting. I don’t know if this will stay true over the long term, but this is one building type in one type of region, so I have high hopes.

    Arcen needs to iron some things out over the course of the beta, but otherwise, the outline is in place for this game to become something really special.

    • HinduBob says:

      I completely agree. I’m a few hours in and I’m enjoying it. My only complaint is the lack of a reason to kill the monsters. You should either get experience for them, or better yet, you should be able to take out their spawn locations. Other than that I like the game, and I even understand why they switched to a side scroller (some of the spells, like flying as a bat, just work better that way). Actually my biggest problem is that the dungeon map (the one in the lower right corner) is too small. Other than that I’ve liked the demo, and I’m going to buy the full game today.

      Also, I like the art style. I showed it to my girlfriend and asked her what she thought (she’s not a gamer), and she said she liked it a lot. It’s not perfect, but it’s unique and I think that’s a good thing. Keep up the good work Arcen. I look forward to seeing where this game goes.

    • Professor Paul1290 says:

      I really really don’t like the idea of the enemies giving XP when you kill them. That just seems like too much of a long term benefit. I like that you can simply choose to ignore certain areas if they’re not related to your immediate task and I think getting something as long term as XP would kind of hurt that.

      I think would be nice if they dropped something more immediately useful like materials for scrolls and stuff like that.

      EDIT:
      It seems that they’re going to add some form of drops from ordinary monsters:
      http://www.arcengames.com/mantisbt/view.php?id=4008

    • Dominic White says:

      They need to make monster lairs destroyable and give XP. Perhaps spawn a cluster of enemies and a miniboss when you do wreck them, giving you some incentive to clear out zones and make them safe.

    • Fiatil says:

      Pretty much this. Respawning enemies aren’t terrible unless there’s no decent way to make them stop respawning. I want to be able to clear out an area (or at least have some sort of safe ground I can clear out) and then be able to explore it. I really like the art style for the environments, but it’s tough to enjoy it with giant weird robot things constantly attacking me. If it starts out like that, fine, but part of the appeal of this game is the “actraiser-ness” of it, and I’d like to be able to clear out some nice peaceful woodlands in addition to building up my home base.

  27. MuscleHorse says:

    I think Dominic has already nailed what I wanted to say about the beta, but it really does bear repeating just how atrocious the mixture of art styles is. It feels like a mishmash of photoshop stock images and nothing really feels like it belongs together. Do your best to ignore that though and you’ll find a mildly enjoyable game. There does need to be some way to remove enemy spawn points too and I’d really love something physical to smack the monsters over the head with. Some sort of consistency with the exterior and interior size of a structure would be nice too, as well as some sanity to their layout.

  28. Fiatil says:

    Alright, so this game is definitely growing on me. Firstly, because of

    “Monster nests no longer respawn except in boss rooms. So you can now permanently clear an area of monsters if you wish.”

    They’ve already put out 8 updates since the beta was released, and almost every one has addressed something that felt wrong to me about the game. The background art is mostly quite nice, and the character models don’t clash with everything as much as it seemed in the trailer. The animations aren’t fluid, but if once you start to realize that this really is a nice metroidvania it’s not very weird at all. The roll jump that breaks off for an attack isn’t much different from a lot of other games in the genre; I guess I’m just too used to playing Metroid and all of the clones that were out during the SNES and genesis days to be bothered by it.

    I haven’t managed to get to the city building parts (I’m only level 4 and it requires level 6, which is also the cap of the very generous demo) yet, but from what I’ve seen they add a good amount of depth. At this point I’m pretty happy going around shooting fireballs and things at bosses in massive randomly generated caves to get resources for crafting.